The Naval Service is the naval branch of the British Armed Forces, which includes civilian agencies under the control of the Navy Board. According to the Queen's Regulations for the Royal Navy, it consists of:
The term Naval Service should be distinguished from the "UK Naval Services", which consist of the Naval Service and the Merchant Navy.
The April 2005 regular strength of the Naval Service (i.e. Royal Navy and Royal Marines) was 36,320. The Naval Service is dominated by the Royal Navy, which accounts for over 80% of Naval Service personnel. The Naval Service as a whole comes under the command of the Navy Board, which is headed by the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff.
Referred to as the "Senior Service" by virtue of it being the oldest service within the British Armed Forces, the Royal Navy had a strength of 34,900 in April 2006. The Navy has been structured around a single fleet since the abolition of the Eastern and Western fleets in 1971. Command of deployable assets is exercised by the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, who also has authority over the Royal Marines, and the civilian Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Personnel matters are the responsibility of the Second Sea Lord/Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command, an appointment usually held by a vice-admiral.
The United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent is carried aboard the navy's Vanguard-class of four nuclear ballistic-missile submarines. The surface fleet consists of carriers, destroyers, frigates, amphibious assault ships, patrol ships, mine-countermeasures, and miscellaneous vessels. A submarine service has existed within the Royal Navy for over 100-years. The service possessed a combined fleet of diesel-electric and nuclear-powered submarines in the early 1990s. Following the Options for Change defence review, diesel-electric submarines were withdrawn and the "hunter-killer" fleet is now exclusively nuclear-powered.
The infantry component of the Naval Service is the Corps of Royal Marines, which had a reported strength of approximately 7,400 in 2006. Consisting of a single manoeuvre brigade (3 Commando) and various independent units, the Royal Marines specialise in amphibious, arctic, and mountain warfare. Contained within 3 Commando Brigade are three attached army units; an infantry battalion (from April 2008), an artillery regiment, and an engineer regiment. The Commando Logistic Regiment consists of personnel from the Army, Royal Marines, and Royal Navy.
The following services were formerly also components of the Naval Service:
Naval Reserve Forces: